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RedBlue

5.10.21 - RedBlue - Constance Wood Stove ch 6 (2430 words)

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Hello everyone,

Chapter six this week. I’m also adding the new version of the last scene of chapter five, which I rewrote when I realised that C and V were having the wrong conversation (I have no idea why I thought they needed to talk about homework!)

Questions:

1) Is the new version of the end of chapter 5 better? Does it make sense?

2) Any boring bits?

3) Does MD’s POV work? Does the voice sound about right, or does it sound off?

4) Does C and T’s conversation work? Is it believable? Is it clear where T is coming from?

Recap:

C and her friends play on the cursed land, and C notices and investigates some strange things: disappearing contents of and essay and films, V the green boy raven appearing, diamond earrings later claimed by GM in the WS, and a plane in T’s barn.

C experiments with the WS, feeding it a mop and the feathers of her chickens, which died along with the neighbour’s dog. MD, a mop-like dog-like creature, emerges from the WS.

C takes on the responsibility of caring for MD. She also confronts GM, who tells C that the adults will reveal the secrets of the WS if she gets full marks at school.

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Chapter 5 Adjustments:

I like the idea of this change in direction for their conversation, as it fits C’s character really well and gives us a little more reason for why she tries so hard to think the best of people. But I do think it could be streamlined a bit.

Chapter 6:

Pg 3:

“He is a good mop” MD deserves a pat on the head.

“travesty of nature…calls to him.” Hah.

Pg 4:

“four tiny beds” !!!

Pg 6:

“Something to do with J and the owning of dogs.” The curse strikes again!

Pg 7:

I like seeing this conflict with T. Especially after the new part of Chapter 5 talking about wanting to be friendly with everyone and think the best of people.  GM certainly knows how to hit where it hurts.

Pg 9:

I was not expecting E to come to the rescue. We haven’t seen much about him since the opening scene, but this fits what was set up there, with him being enthusiastic and not necessarily looking ahead to the consequences of his choices.  

“boisterous in a way that would tire C out if she were to try it” Man.  Relatable.

Overall:

Not a ton to say on this one.  I like having MD thrown in, both for the spotlight on Mom’s strangeness and because the voice is fun. 

I do feel like I need to read through from the start to get a feel for the overall pacing of the story.   In many ways it feels like we are adding depth to the problem of the curse, and getting a broader explanation of what it does and how it effects the town, but aren’t necessarily moving forward toward solving it.  There are a few clear steps, for sure, but I think the week to week submission setup makes it harder to get a sense of the forward progress, especially when the chapters aren’t super long (though that definitely makes sense for MG).   Do you have a percentage estimate of how far into the story we are at this point?  Also, would you be able to send me a document with the most up to date version of chapters 1-5 so I can get a better feel for the pacing?

1.      I think it’s better, but could still use some streamlining of the conversation.  Parts of it feel a little stilted as is.

2.      Nope

3.      I think it comes across pretty well.  The one thing I would wonder at this point would be to ask the people who are more familiar with middle grade writing if there would be issues with as many points of view as we’ve had.  I like multiple povs when they aren't adding unnecessary confusion, but I don’t know if there are any sorts of guidelines when considering what an agent or publisher might be concerned by.

4.      I think it does.  I thought it made a lot of sense for T’s irritation with C not showing up over the weekend to make her more willing to listen to whatever GM told her.

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Overall, this was a strong submission. In answer to your questions:

1. I like the ending of this chapter 5 much better. I think this conversation is much deeper and gets closer to the heart of the real problem. It does put less emphasis on the importance of completing the homework, but if that is not going to be a main focus of the sotry I think it is a good move. I especially think the theme of what it means to be a good friend is good here, since that comes up later in the next chapter. 

2. Not really! The end made me very sad, though.

3. I was surprised by MD's perspective, but I thought it worked. If MD never has another viewpoint, you might want to consider giving the viewpoint to someone like C or V, however, for the sake of streamlining. I'm also curious as to how V was able to calm mom down. 

4. Yes, very. Even though this is a juvenile conversation, I found it devastating. I think its thematically sound for a middle grade book, as well. 

I didn't catch any glaring grammatical errors, so good job! I'm especially interested in how the curse seems to be affecting memory. Like the universe itself is trying to gaslight people

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  1. I think it's better! I was still a bit thrown off by the ending, but I'll comment on that later
  2. Worked pretty well for me! 
  3. I really liked the MD POV! I think starting his section w the simple sentences really set the tone, which was good
  4. Yeah - partway through I went 'oh, right, there was that convo with the other guy about trusting/not trusting C' which made me realize where T is coming from. I wasn't super clear on E and T's personalities before, but being like, middle school kids or whatever, the convo is pretty believable 

pg 1 "she's lying about the grades": just to be clear: lying about the grades being useful to C? 

pg 2 - i liked C's introspection/reflection, i thought that worked well

last line on that page: still implies that doing well at school = learning abt the WS? the line felt a bit out of nowhere. is she ignoring V's advice?

pg 3 - will MD's POV be recurring, or is this a one-time thing?

pg 4 "cradles" - made me think 'four children??' along the lines of C having, like, dead siblings or something. 

pg 5 "protect her dog from her mother": what is C thinking her mother will do? why is her mother so mad? imo it feels like the mom is mad about more than just having her room cleaned for her :thinking:

"congealed grey fluff": briefly made me think that MD was no longer a MD, something about the mom reverting him because he got kicked out

The last line of the chapter was pretty funny to me lol. Overall, I've got a lot of questions and it doesn't seem like C is making a lot of progress in answering them. It's not too confusing that I can't follow along, and I think the story is still really fun, but I can't quite tell where exactly the story is going. 

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I agree this was a strong submission! Nothing really jumped out, though the middle could probably be edited down a bit.

On 5/10/2021 at 6:45 AM, RedBlue said:

1) Is the new version of the end of chapter 5 better? Does it make sense?

2) Any boring bits?

3) Does MD’s POV work? Does the voice sound about right, or does it sound off?

4) Does C and T’s conversation work? Is it believable? Is it clear where T is coming from?

1) Definitely better. I'm still not sure it needs as much conversation about homework as it has, but talking about friends and acquaintances is good.

2) Not really. A little slow in the middle in MD's POV, but this pulled me along with the questions it asked.

3) About right, but I'm not sure how necessary it is, and whether MD is actually sentient. It might bring up more questions that it answers.

4) I thought this was a really good exchange. I'm also wondering if C just forgot, or if there's something larger with the curse not wanting her to find out.

 

Notes while reading

pg 1: “Proximity equals friendship?”
--An interesting mistake people make.

pg 2: "in activating a curse"
--still not clear on this. I thought it was more or less permanent?

pg 2: "creating a creature"
--is it one or two creatures? Does V count?

pg 4: "But there are also four tiny beds"
--this room is very disturbing.

pg 8: "I know, now, what kind of things are burned in the Wood Stove"
--interesting

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On 5/10/2021 at 3:45 AM, RedBlue said:

1) Is the new version of the end of chapter 5 better? Does it make sense?

2) Any boring bits?

3) Does MD’s POV work? Does the voice sound about right, or does it sound off?

4) Does C and T’s conversation work? Is it believable? Is it clear where T is coming from?

1. yes, better! tho, I was still confused on why they agreed that GM was lying, but C still wanted to get full marks.

2. Nope!

3. Yes, I think so. I just hope the things you brought up in his pov get a payoff. I am especially curious about those 4 beds o.o

4. Yes, and i really want to know what she saw in the plane! I'm also glad E made a comeback.

I dont have much to say with this one! I think, overall, I'm still fairly hungry for answers. I'm waiting for things to connect more so I can grasp whats going on.

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Overall

This installment had good pacing and I enjoyed the character engagement. This had more of an arc than most of the chapters you submit, so I liked that. Not keen on another POV when I don't feel committed to either of the previous two, but mopdog is pretty cute.The kids' voices aren't really distinct enough for me to tell them apart without the dialogue tags but C is getting a more distinct voice, so progress there. 

Nice job on the pacing!

 

As I go

- I need a mopdog

- pg 3: I don't think I care for another POV. I still don't really care as much as I should for our lead character, and I don't have handle at all on V. Getting a mopdog POV isn't giving me the handhold I need into the story

- pg 3: yellow with human skin grease <-- ewwww

- ah, we have a semblance of plot!

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As I go:

pg 1. I like the content a lot better here, though it feels a little to stiff and formal to me, even for someone like C who seems naturally pretty formal

pg 2. This is making me feel glad that I don't live in a small town... I mean, I guess I do now, but idk if I count collegetowns since I'm gonna be out of here in another 4-5 years

-My read on V here is he's like "GM is obviously deceiving you but if you really want to do this I can't stop you," and if that's what's going on I'd like to see that be a bit more explicit

pg 3. Wow you really made me fall in love with this good doggo in a paragraph 

pg 5. While I feel for the good doggo, it feels like we're drifting away from the main plot to me

pg 8. Is the time C was absent when she was dealing with the chickens/dog? When she was working on homework to get full marks? I'm trying to remember the timeframe here

pg 9. Is C surprised by the implication that she made the doggo or that T knows she made the doggo?

Overall:

On 5/10/2021 at 6:45 AM, RedBlue said:

1) Is the new version of the end of chapter 5 better? Does it make sense?

2) Any boring bits?

3) Does MD’s POV work? Does the voice sound about right, or does it sound off?

4) Does C and T’s conversation work? Is it believable? Is it clear where T is coming from?

1. I do like it better! Especially from a content perspective. I did have some comments in the LBLs to help clean it up even more, though.

2. I felt my attention drifting during pages 5-6. Does J matter at all? If not I think we could just be told that none of the closest neighbors want the doggo and then we run into T. 

3. I could go either way on the POV, since it was engaging but ultimately not that important for me. The voice is great!

4. I think it works overall, though I was struggling to remember the timeframe and why C was so busy that she forgot about her obligation. Also I want a bit more from T here. Stuff like "I waited on the porch for hours and you didn't show up..." ect. Right now it's all a bit abstract and about stuff that didn't happen, when it will be easier for us to picture when she talks about what she did do (investigate on her own and feel lonely or just wait around).

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Thanks for all your feedback, everyone!

 

Looks like there isn’t too much to do on this chapter.

I’ll look into trimming MD’s POV a bit. I do plan to pay off the things I set up in that section, but I definitely hear the concerns about the number of POVs.  

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Questions:

1) NA

2) Any boring bits?

No, not particularly. There was plenty of conflict in this chapter.

3) Does MD’s POV work? Does the voice sound about right, or does it sound off?

I enjoyed the MD POV, and it was useful in that it allowed us to see into the bedroom and the 4 cradles, which I feel is important. The only problem I had was him planning to do laundry, which suggests much higher than doggy intelligence.

4) Does C and T’s conversation work? Is it believable? Is it clear where T is coming from?

Yes, this conversation works. In fact, I actually find myself siding with T. I feel like C just forgot about her and was really wondering when we were going to come back to T, after that great T POV scene earlier in the novel.

As I go-

pg 1,

-It's interesting to get a POV from MD.

-"There's old food packaging...yellow with human skin grease." Great concrete setting details that set the tone.

pg 2,

"...four tiny beds--cradles--surrounding the bigger bed. Their sheets and blankets are thick with dust." Very interesting. This makes me remember the 4 chairs at the table. So the Boneyards raised 4 children? I wonder if this is a coincidence to the 4 children in town.

-When MD thinks that there's nothing to do but put the bedding into the washing machine, it's a little jarring. Is MD supposed to be that intelligent? He doesn't seem like he's all that smart, but taking sheets off a bed and putting them into the washing machine is very advanced thinking.

-When V intercepts S and speaks to her, it seems like C's confidence and agency is backsliding a bit as she let's V handle the conflict for her.

pg 3,

-"Nobody wanted their money used to solve other people's pets' problems. C vaguely remembers a rumor that it burned down." This seems to be a theme, things burning down. Probably related to the wood stove. This statement causes me to think. How does money work in this town anyways? Is the bank like a pantry, does it just replicate money? The economy in a town where things just replicate on their own or are created magically seems problematic, but also intriguing. I'm curious what money would be needed for in a town where no one leaves, there's plenty of abandoned houses to live in, and supplies breed themselves.

pg 4,

-"Tell that mother of yours I'm not interested in cleaning up her messes, kid." Hmm, this is a strange statement. Is he implying that MD is a mess that was created by S? For all we know, C is the one that made MD in her experimentation. I wonder why J assumes that it's S who is responsible.

-"Perhaps C should have led with MD's mopping skills." Very amusing, I chuckled.

-"That's more important than the rules." I thought that C decided to follow the rules in the last chapter. This statement seems quite at odds with that.

pg 5,

-"There's a plane in my barn, remember?" This is something that had been bothering me. I was wondering if we were going to return to the plane, since there was the whole cliffhanger scene of T seeing inside of it. I know that T says that C is her best friend, but it feels like C has been completely ignoring T, and that was before GM "tricked" C into trying to get good grades.

-"She has a horrible feeling that she's saying all the wrong words, and she doesn't know the right ones." This is a very self aware moment for C, good characterization.

pg 7,

-Ah, I see that GM has been talking to T, telling her the secrets of the stove. Very manipulative indeed to make it seem that C wasn't telling her best friend everything she knew.

pg 8,

-What I don't understand, however, is how T knows about MD, and that C made him. Does she just put that together immediately after seeing him?

-"How else would T know that MD has been made, rather than found?" That's a good question.

pg 9,

-E seems like a very innocent, truly boyish character. He's written very believably.

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